F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II Program
The F-35 is projected to meet all Key Performance Parameters (KPP) and as of 10 May 2009, AA-1 had completed 84 test flights, including a deployment to Eglin AFB. The first system design and development (SDD) Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft, BF-1, had completed 14 flights. The second SDD STOVL aircraft, BF-2, had its first flight in February 2009.
Despite the program's continued manufacturing problems and the infancy of the flighttest program, DOD officials want to accelerate F-35 production from 485 to 654 aircraft over a 6-year time frame from fiscal years 2010 through 2015. This would require up to $33.4 billion in additional procurement funding for those 6 years and expose the government to additional risk from future cost increases because of the contract type. On April 6, 2009, the Secretary of Defense announced that DOD intended to increase F-35 production to 513 aircraft across the 5-year defense plan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended buying 30 F-35s in fiscal 2010, up from the 14 funded for FY2009, boosting funding from $6.9 billion to $11.2 billion. The FY 2010 budget request contained $2.7 billion for procurement of 22 EA-18G and 9 F/A-18E/F aircraft, and $4.5 billion for procurement of 20 F-35B/C aircraft for the Department of the Navy. This represented a reduction from the fiscal year 2009 program of record of nine F/A-18E/F aircraft and an increase of two F-35B/C aircraft. The Department of the Navy had a fiscal year 2009 strike-fighter inventory shortfall of 110 aircraft and predicts a fiscal year 2010 shortfall of 152 aircraft, with a potential peak strike-fighter shortfall of 312 aircraft by fiscal year 2018. A variety of factors caused the current and projected strike-fighter shortfall. Those factors include a fiscal year 2002 decision to reduce F/A-18A through D inventory by 88 aircraft, a reduction in the program of record quantity for F-35B/C by 409 aircraft, delays in development of the F-35B/C program, and F/A 18A through D aircraft reaching forecasted service life sooner than expected.
The FY2010 budget request contained $1.9 billion in PE 64800F, and $1.7 billion in PE 64800N, for development of the F-35, but contained no funds for development of a competitive F-35 propulsion system. The aggregate amount requested for F-35 development is $1.4 billion higher than projected in 2008, and that $476.0 million of that amount conformed to increases recommended by a recent joint estimating team, which amount will be used primarily for management reserve. The budget request also contained $2.0 billion for procurement of 10 F- 35As and $300.6 million for F-35 advance procurement in Aircraft Procurement, Air Force, but contained no funds for either procurement of competitive F-35 propulsion systems or for advance procurement of competitive F-35 propulsion system long-lead components. Additionally, the budget request contained $4.0 billion for the procurement of 16 F-35Bs and four F-35Cs and $481.0 million for F-35 advance procurement in Aircraft Procurement, Navy, but contained funds for neither procurement of competitive propulsion systems nor advance procurement of competitive F-35 competitive F-35 propulsion systems long-lead components. The Aircraft Procurement, Navy budget request also contained $1.3 billion for spares and repair parts.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense's Director of Portfolio Acquisition testified before the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee on May 20, 2009, and stated that the Department planned a 75 percent higher year-over-year production rate for the F-35 program for fiscal year 2010 and that this rate, ''seems to be an achievable rate.'' The the production rate for fiscal year 2009 is 17 aircraft, of which 14 are for the Department of Defense and 3 are international aircraft. A 75 percent higher production rate for fiscal year 2010 would total 30 aircraft, and 2 international aircraft are planned, leaving 28 DOD aircraft in fiscal year 2010 necessary to achieve the 75 percent year-over-year production rate, two less than the 30 F-35s contained in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Air Force budget requests. The House Armed Services Committee recommended a reduction of one F-35B in Aircraft Procurement, Navy and one F-35A in Aircraft Procurement, Air Force.
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